Guys, if you think you’re destined to be skinny forever, you’re not alone. It can be difficult to overcome plateaus and force your body to change, but it can be done. Many people have transformed themselves; even some professional bodybuilders started as skin and bones. Your body type doesn’t have to hold you back! You may not become a mass monster instantly, but you can add lean, quality muscle if you work hard and pay attention.
There are several key factors that anyone trying to build muscle needs to evaluate.
1. EAT!: This is the most important factor in gaining or losing weight.
If you can’t seem to gain weight, you’re not eating enough; it’s that simple. I’ve heard it 1000 times: “I eat all the time, but I can never gain weight!” Bull. If you’re serious about adding muscle, you need to eat at least 5 times a day. Not snacks, but real meals. The calories you take in must be greater than the calories you burn.
Extra calories + weight lifting = more muscle.
You may ask how you will eat that many times a day, especially if you aren’t hungry. The simple answer is to force-feed yourself. Develop a meal schedule and stick to it. If you miss a meal, make it up. If you aren’t hungry, eat anyway; just make sure you don’t throw up, or you’ll have to make up the calories.
You may have a busy schedule, but that shouldn’t keep you from attaining your goal physique. The best way to make sure you meet your calorie goals is to bring your food with you. I’m notorious for carrying a cooler everywhere: parties, bars, school, and the gym. Prepare your food in advance, and know what you will need if you have to pack in a hurry.
The best part about having a high metabolism is exactly that; you can get away with eating almost anything. The key is to not overdo it. Never increase your calories by one or two thousand Eat Sleep Burn in a day; you need to work up to that level so that your body can adjust. Begin by adding 100-200 calories every few days until you begin to see results. Once you determine your maintenance calorie level, you should aim for about 500 over that (200-300 if you’re concerned about possible fat gain).
Protein is the key factor for building muscle; carbs and fats are also important, but your protein requirements should be paramount. 1 gram per pound of lean body weight (the weight you would be with 0% bodyfat) is usually recommended. As long as you are getting an adequate amount of protein, the rest really doesn’t matter that much. You will want your carb intake to be higher than your fat intake, but exact ratios aren’t required. High calorie foods are needed if you want to gain weight. There are healthier choices like natural peanut butter, but fast food is fine in moderation. Most restaurants publish the nutritional value of their foods, so you can easily determine what you need.
As far as supplements, weight gainer shakes can be a valuable asset for hardgainers and those with busy schedules. Creatine is also an excellent choice, and can be extremely cheap. And, of course, a good multivitamin should be included at all times.
This is the time that your body recovers, and is vital to muscle building. Not only do your muscles repair during this time, but sleep also stimulates your hormonal system and keeps everything in balance. 7-8 hours is a good target; some people need less, and some people need more. Figure out what works best for you, but make sure you give your body the time it needs to recover.